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Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

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An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world. Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, ACE invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too. Journalist Angela Chen uses her own journey of self-discovery as an asexual person to unpretentiously educate and vulnerably connect with readers, effortlessly weaving analysis of sexuality and societally imposed norms with interviews of ace people. Among those included are the woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and the man who grew up in an evangelical household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Also represented are disabled aces, aces of color, non-gender-conforming aces questioning whether their asexuality is a reaction against stereotypes, and aces who don't want romantic relationships asking how our society can make room for them.


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An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world. Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, ACE invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too. Journalist Angela Chen uses her own journey of self-discovery as an asexual person to unpretentiously educate and vulnerably connect with readers, effortlessly weaving analysis of sexuality and societally imposed norms with interviews of ace people. Among those included are the woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and the man who grew up in an evangelical household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Also represented are disabled aces, aces of color, non-gender-conforming aces questioning whether their asexuality is a reaction against stereotypes, and aces who don't want romantic relationships asking how our society can make room for them.

30 review for Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    I'm always striving to grow as a person and expand my knowledge base, and the one area of queer spectrum that I probably need the most education in is asexuality. I've read nearly two dozen romance books with asexual characters, but I've never read a non-fiction book about asexuality until now. As someone who is far removed from the asexual world, I was really interested to learn more about asexuality from a more nuanced perspective. And I was really impressed by how Angela Chen approached the t I'm always striving to grow as a person and expand my knowledge base, and the one area of queer spectrum that I probably need the most education in is asexuality. I've read nearly two dozen romance books with asexual characters, but I've never read a non-fiction book about asexuality until now. As someone who is far removed from the asexual world, I was really interested to learn more about asexuality from a more nuanced perspective. And I was really impressed by how Angela Chen approached the topic. Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex is a dense, diverse, queer, feminist, and interesting book on asexuality and it's cultural, personal, and historical significance. I had never considered some of Angela Chen's talking points before. For example, she goes into details about how feminism and asexuality intersect, and how the focus on sexual liberation and therefore the heightened emphasis on more sex and more partners somehow became linked to being more "feminist" in many people's minds. She also going into detail about the complicated relationships between physical and mental disabilities and asexuality, and about race and age in the asexual community. There was a lot to unpack. I enjoyed how the author wove in personal stories from multiple sources, including herself. I also liked how she explored concepts that I find personally challenging to understand, like romantic love vs platonic love when attraction isn't involved. Though I found the story to be very interesting, I also found it to be dense and a bit clunky to get through. I read it between other books, at times unable to put it down and at other times struggling to keep my attention, which might just be a product of reading a non-fiction, more didactic type of story. However, overall, it was a very rewarding read for me, and I think it greatly furthered my understanding of the nuances of asexuality. A great read for those who are asexual or those who just want to learn more about asexuality, I would highly recommend Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review* goodreads|instagram|twitter|blog

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    I’m here, I’m asexual, and I need this book more than I need cake

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    I just applied for a giveaway of this! As someone on the ace spectrum this is Relevant to my Interests.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lily Herman

    Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a book. I legitimately don't even know where to begin. I feel like my mind expanded to twice its size over the course of reading this. Ace isn't simply about the asexual community; it's as much about how our we view desire, romance, sex, sexuality, and cultural "necessities" like marriage—and how we should question everything that's considered innate to our nature. This book is absolutely for those who want to learn more about asexuality and our societal norms and pressur Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a book. I legitimately don't even know where to begin. I feel like my mind expanded to twice its size over the course of reading this. Ace isn't simply about the asexual community; it's as much about how our we view desire, romance, sex, sexuality, and cultural "necessities" like marriage—and how we should question everything that's considered innate to our nature. This book is absolutely for those who want to learn more about asexuality and our societal norms and pressures around sex, but I'd argue that for that reason, everyone needs to read it. I also appreciated how Chen laced intersectionality into her work, including looking at how identities like race, disability, religion, geography, class, education, and gender are inherently interwoven with sexuality and sexual orientation. Additionally, it was equally important that she pointed out at the get-go that her writing would be somewhat narrowed to more Western, educated, and middle- or high-income populations given the nature of who has access to material on asexuality as well as the time and resources to do that internal work. This is definitely a denser and more academic read, so I recommend breaking it up a little bit. But I think it should be required reading for everybody.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    I received an ARC from an ARC fairy and this is my honest review! CW: mentions of acephobia 4.5/5 When I first heard about this book, I got super excited. A new nonfiction book examining asexuality? Something I can point to for people who want to know more about this? And one that's written by someone who's ace? So, so excited. I'm really glad I read this one because it's super diverse and looks at basically any intersection that asexuality can have. Race (the author is Chinese herself), gender (bo I received an ARC from an ARC fairy and this is my honest review! CW: mentions of acephobia 4.5/5 When I first heard about this book, I got super excited. A new nonfiction book examining asexuality? Something I can point to for people who want to know more about this? And one that's written by someone who's ace? So, so excited. I'm really glad I read this one because it's super diverse and looks at basically any intersection that asexuality can have. Race (the author is Chinese herself), gender (both cis and trans identities), disability, trauma and rape, romantic identifications, across the spectrum, etc. It really covered everything you might think about, showing that asexuality brings a lot to the table to the conversation of sexuality. I really enjoyed this and I think that it's a must read for aces to consider the space that we inhabit and the intersectionality of our wonderfully diverse community, as well as for allosexual (aka feel sexual attraction) folk so they can become more inclusive and remove acephobia from their world. It was just excellent and definitely one I'll end up having on my shelf!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    I don’t even know where to start with my review, but just know this- the beautiful feeling of being seen, of being validated, is precious and happens so rarely for us ace folx so this is...everything. Hand this to all ace/aro spec folx, allo folx, and questioning friends-this explains it all far better than I ever could!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan Derr

    Speaking as an asexual, I couldn't even finish the free sample of this book. It's poisonous.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Swankivy

    I really appreciate this book partly because it felt personal. There are parts of it that shift away from personal narratives to discuss history, fact, definition, or neutral events, but most of it came through a specific perspective that compares, contrasts, and relates the content: it's the perspective of the author. And that's not a down side at all--it reminds us that the broad spectrum of asexual experience, asexual history, asexual definition, and asexual justice is always ultimately perso I really appreciate this book partly because it felt personal. There are parts of it that shift away from personal narratives to discuss history, fact, definition, or neutral events, but most of it came through a specific perspective that compares, contrasts, and relates the content: it's the perspective of the author. And that's not a down side at all--it reminds us that the broad spectrum of asexual experience, asexual history, asexual definition, and asexual justice is always ultimately personal. We are each one person in the thick of all this, finding our way. I like how the beginning contrasted a sex-repulsed person's very obvious asexuality with a more confusing self-discovery that had the author struggling to pick apart what sexual attraction is and why it was not the same thing as being interested in or willing to have sex. The focus on developing language for it and understanding ourselves through it was really refreshing. And as we read more about the history, the "trap" of defining ourselves through lack, the evolution of a population that was dawning in its specific organization as the internet emerged, and the things we share despite extremely variable experiences, we can understand it in macro by looking at it in micro. I was head-nodding a lot at the descriptions of how various types of attraction break down and why it's important--even if a lot of people have experienced their aesthetic and sensual and romantic and sexual attraction toward the same people in a way that seems synchronous, asexual people might find a few of those off the table and only some of them remaining, and don't know how to proceed because they're told they "can't" want one thing and not the others. But it's so interesting that non-aces who do experience sexual attraction but NOT some of the other things that often go with it might also find these concepts useful and applicable in their lives, and I loved the discussion of that, along with so many oh-so-relatable examples about not finding "hot" people hot at all when they do the "hot" things and not being able to recognize the "energy" everyone is supposedly putting out and receiving. I appreciate the care taken to acknowledge the effect of a person's socioeconomic and cultural status on their experience of sexuality and asexuality, too. I especially like how in Chapter 3 there was an examination of how heterosexuality is WAY more than just an orientation that happens to be the most popular one! It's a huge institution designed to influence our choices, from who we mate with to how we present ourselves in society (and what is good to attract, while there are other things we "should" want to avoid appearing like). Heterosexuality can seem insidious and oppressive if it's used against a person, and even for those who haven't been particularly harmed through its pervasiveness have certainly had it inform their process of coming to an adult identity and "deciding" what they like. The discussion that follows from this about compulsory sexuality and how it affects asexual people is really nuanced and rang very true. Sometimes it can be hard to understand from outside how it can hurt so intensely and so pervasively to be told Every Single Healthy Person Is Sexual and how terribly it can affect you if so many people take this as given when they enter into a relationship with you (or realize it has been true all along when they already had a relationship with you). What that assumption does to a relationship, how it makes them see you differently, how the urge to "fix" asexual people because of compulsory sexuality can manifest from violence to condescending media representation, how the things that hurt us the most are often done in the interest of "helping us." I have probably been hurt the most in my life by people who think they're hounding me and interrogating me for MY own good--and it really is amazing how few of them have ever considered whether THEIR basic assumption about sexuality could be fundamentally mistaken. Their utter unwillingness to consider such things is really telling; we live in a society that enables such people to never question this "basic" belief, and it really is tragic that so many of us have been hurt by people who claim they want to help us. The exploration of why asexuality needs to be talked about was really special too. I liked that there was a pretty extensive discussion of various experiences of people who thought something was wrong with them and what that did to their lives, and why it's not the same as people just wanting "recognition" for no reason if we live in a society that CENTERS the thing we don't experience. I've personally encountered the aggressive, HA-GOTCHA screed of "IF I DON'T LIKE SOCCER LIKE MOST MEN, DOES THAT MEAN *I* DESERVE A GROUP FOR SOMETHING I'M NOT INTERESTED IN!?" plenty of times, from people who seem really inappropriately angry that someone like me might be getting attention they don't ~deserve~. Yes, sir, if your life was deeply affected by and shaped by your lack of interest in something, and you'd had people trying to pressure you into it for decades, and your society was set up to make you think something was wrong with you if you didn't like it, and you were urged to undergo physical and mental interventions to get you to start liking it, and everyone you talked to had an exaggerated, intense judgment of you for what you weren't into (which may or may not lead to disrespect, harassment, intentional triggering, or violence), well . . . yeah, sure, I think you very well "deserve" a group. (But I also wouldn't be in the comments field of a "I HATE FOOTBALL AND NO ONE UNDERSTANDS" organization telling them they don't deserve to have that conversation, because if they want to have it, I'm not invested at all in taking it away from them. The reverse is not true.) I never took the liberties the author took with trying to jump-start a typical sexual experience, but I very much recognized the pressures she mentions: that women, if they are not sexually adventurous, are assumed repressed, and that if we believe we are not repressed and yet still don't want sex, we need to access some kind of intervention or therapy to get us in touch with ourselves, with the supposition that that desire IS in us somewhere and we will never know our "real" selves if we don't realize that everyone (including women) wants sex. I was actually once harassed and shamed on Twitter by someone who insisted that asexuality is inherently an anti-feminist and oppressive identity! The person said it was utterly irresponsible of me to "trick" women into thinking they could have no desire and that could be okay, and that I was shamefully undoing decades of women's lib to reiterate conservative ideologies that let women be okay with "not admitting" their sexual appetites and being ashamed of their desires. Obviously any real feminist should understand that the issue is about choice, not about how often and to what extent you say yes. If you don't have the freedom to say yes on your own terms, yes, you're oppressed. And that includes also being able to say no whenever it suits you. If "no, always, forever" isn't available as an option, it's not really choice. I liked the information about sex-negative feminism from the early 1980s because that was new information to me! I recognized its effects in the reality of my life, but I didn't know the specifics, and it was really enlightening to read about! And reading about Lauren, one of the interviewees who was unfortunate enough to encounter a mentor who was aggressive about trying to program her into believing asexuality wasn't real and if she was asexual she would never be a good writer because it meant she lacked passion . . . I've had that said to me and it's so baffling. I was literally told once that sexual passion was THE root of all motivation and passion for everyone, so it was impossible for me to be a decent writer if I lacked this. I would need to get in touch with it, STAT. Gee, I wonder why so many people need to believe that sexual attraction and sexual desire are an inherent part of being human and that we literally can't have human desires without it? (And as an aside about Lauren's story, what does it say about the predictability of these scenarios that I KNEW the man who manipulated her into thinking she would never amount to anything unless she ditched asexuality would eventually proposition her, then shame her when she refused? Surprise: another man who somehow thinks he loves a woman but is routinely manipulative and condescending, then FURIOUS when she ultimately will not become the thing he has been trying to sculpt her into.) I love the discussion of the author's reasoning for having a one-night stand to prove she was not being held back by Puritan notions about saving oneself. It was really fascinating to me as a person who's heard all the same things but was never driven in that direction. I really related, though, to the section about caveats afterwards; that we as aces always feel like we have to qualify our aceness and explain that we're ace but not in the BAD way that the other person is probably thinking. (And that reassuring others that the stereotypes about aces aren't true for us is indirectly insulting to some other aces and can introduce or reinforce the stereotypes for our conversation partner.) The section on the ace community being "whitewashed" was especially important for me to read. As an ace activist who noticed the whitewashing a long time ago and always tries to listen when aces of color talk about their experience, I very much appreciate a whole spotlight on it to hear their stories. The intersection of their racial minority status with their aceness is such an important discussion topic--how much they're sexualized or not sexualized, what beliefs about them feed into who they become and how they react to their own sexual attraction or perception of receiving sexual attraction from someone else, what kind of unique cultural pressures are they reacting to or perceived to be reacting to--it's a lot of the same stuff other people told me during my own research that I by definition can't experience because I'm white. These aces existing in my community and talking about their experiences this way led me to encourage journalists and reporters to include non-white participants whenever they contacted me for my perspective. (I also like to encourage them to reach out to neurodivergent and disabled aces.) I also really like the exploration of ace people's choices in how they present themselves. I too have been confronted with "HA GOTCHA" commentary about how I absolutely WOULD NOT dress the way I do if I was asexual and therefore I am not. In other words, if I ever appear in any way desirable to someone, a) it was calculated, intentional; and b) if my appearance might make someone want to have sex with me, I also obviously want to have sex with someone, if not specifically them. It's preposterous, but SO often thrown around as "proof" that any attractive asexual person is a liar. (And of course, if we're not particularly attractive or don't, by their perception, "try," then THAT'S the reason we CLAIM to be asexual--because no one wants us. Ta-dah! No way we present ourselves validates an asexual identity! Surprise!) The next chapter on disability highlighted similar issues regarding the intersection of desexualization and physical existence and the way disabled bodies are thought unsexy--which makes it complicated for asexual disabled people to "own" their asexuality and determine whether it's "really" just a symptom (and whether you can even divorce it from your physical existence at a certain point), and how some disabled people and some asexual people are against seeing the two as possibly intertwined because of how much focus there is in both communities about not wanting to be seen as each other. The discussion of a line between romantic love and friendship love was really illuminating! I related a lot to what the author talked about with regard to compelling female friendships and how they can involve physical and emotional intimacy down to kisses and pet names without it meaning you are sexually attracted to the person, and our cultural obsession with saying you MUST be sexually involved (or must want to be) if your care for someone increases beyond a certain strength is really limiting when it comes to relationships so many people really do experience. It has always been weird to me, as the author discusses, that sex without love is accepted as possible but love without sex is treated like an impossibility. I found myself head-nodding in response to people saying they'd been told it's surprising they're single; happens to me all the time, and as a woman past 40, sometimes "you seem great, can't believe you're single" is paired with "so what's the secret thing that's wrong with you?" The examination of consent in a relationship was great too. I've had some disappointing conversations with people who literally believe there is a baseline amount of sex they are guaranteed in a relationship unless the other person explicitly opts out and they agree to that opting out. Otherwise, how convenient, it happens that the Decent Person's Consensus On How Much Sex They Are Owed also happens to be the amount and type of sex they personally want! You don't even have to talk about it because the person who won't offer it is in the wrong if they won't! And counseling will always lean toward figuring out how to make the less sexual person accommodate those needs, without asking the more sexual person why they feel entitled to expect and demand them from an unwilling partner! I also really liked the nuanced discussion of complicated consent--beyond the yes and no binary. The author is also really gifted in using gently accessible language. It was occasionally just unusually artful for coverage of a subject like this, which I appreciated--it really was a pleasure to read writing-style-wise even though the subject matter itself is also an interest of mine. I like that it was clear and readable while still having some voice and personality and some funny phrasing (references to memes or calling people "assholes" was a fun reminder that this is a delightful person's perspective, not just a recitation of ace-related stuff). There were several revealing sections where the author shared her personal prejudices/reactions and her analysis of them, or her history of growing through experiences she wishes she hadn't had to live the way she did. I enjoyed it and thought it was both an artistic success and a very important book for anyone who wants to understand sexual diversity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

    DNF. As someone who identifies as asexual, I was excited to read this, but did not even make it through the first chapter before having to stop. While the author acknowledged in the forward that asexuality is this large spectrum, she then goes in to what asexuality is. I don't care if you've talked to one other ace person or a hundred. You can boil down ever ace experience into one neat little package and deliver it to the masses for their convenience.

  10. 4 out of 5

    jenny✨

    I'm so fucking excited for this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This book opened my eyes to the world of Aces and helped me to see sex and desire and romance as different things. I think the book got a little tedious in parts. I liked it and learned a lot.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rhian Pritchard

    Finally, finally, finally, I have a book about asexuality that I could give to my parents. It covers asexuality 101, and so, so much more than that. It is a relief to have such a thorough description and investigation of what asexuality can be. This book is brilliantly and necessarily intersectional, a breath of fresh air. It covers feminism, racism, ableism, and how all of these things and more intersect with compulsory sexuality. In fact I think I could give it to many of my allo allies, desp Finally, finally, finally, I have a book about asexuality that I could give to my parents. It covers asexuality 101, and so, so much more than that. It is a relief to have such a thorough description and investigation of what asexuality can be. This book is brilliantly and necessarily intersectional, a breath of fresh air. It covers feminism, racism, ableism, and how all of these things and more intersect with compulsory sexuality. In fact I think I could give it to many of my allo allies, despite its density, and I think that not only would they find it absolutely fucking fascinating and eye opening, I think it would enrich their understanding of themselves and the way that sexuality interacts with culture and society from an entirely new perspective. I tend to consider myself fairly connected to and well-versed in ace discourse. However, this book gave words and definitions to concepts that I have never been able to fully tease out or understand, let alone voice. A few years ago, I tried writing a novel that was based in a failed utopia - ironically, I couldn’t address the theme properly because to destroy a utopia you have to built it clearly enough to find its flaws, and I couldn’t imagine how to make a society that I would want to live in, let alone collapse it. It is only with this book that some of those tangled issues have been pulled out and laid flat, and the stage of beginning to think about possible solutions can begin. Possible futures. This is such an incredibly thoughtful and lovely and optimistic book. It has opened my eyes to the many, many possibly ways to be ace, and to be happy, that I hope will one day be mainstream knowledge.

  13. 5 out of 5

    abbie

    This is a very educational and intersectional book on asexuality. Although it is educational, it's told through anectodal stories of various ace people Chen has interviewed, making it an easier read to comprehend. I really like that it covers the following topics: ace differences and expectations in men vs women; the intersectionality of sexuality, race, and gender; asexuality and disabilities, asexuality and romance, platonic love, and queer platonic partners; ace & aromanticism; consent and it' This is a very educational and intersectional book on asexuality. Although it is educational, it's told through anectodal stories of various ace people Chen has interviewed, making it an easier read to comprehend. I really like that it covers the following topics: ace differences and expectations in men vs women; the intersectionality of sexuality, race, and gender; asexuality and disabilities, asexuality and romance, platonic love, and queer platonic partners; ace & aromanticism; consent and it's role in ace-allo relationships; and hermeneutical injustice. All of these topics, and more, really increased my knowledge of asexuality and the intersectionality of it. There's really nothing about this book I didn't enjoy. I was able to connect to many of the stories and interviewees, and where I didn't connect, I was glad to be learning more about the ace community and of people from various other communities that are also a part of the ace community, such as people of different races and people with disabilities, to name a few. This is an OV review, therefore I have connected very heavily to this book. If you're not part of the ace community, I still do recommend that if you found your way to this review, you still do consider reading this book. Maybe it can help you better support and understand your ace friend, partner, sibling, child, or just become a better ally. *This book was provided to me by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.* Ace by Angela Chen comes out on September 15, 2020.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    When I first heard about this book earlier this year, I could barely wait until it was finally going to be published in September. I was counting the days. I thought I'd never needed a book more than I needed this book. That sounds dramatic, but the truth it...it's an understatement. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I've never felt so seen by a book--or any piece of culture or media--in my life. And the way in which this book saw me, represented me, understood me, is so rare that it makes i When I first heard about this book earlier this year, I could barely wait until it was finally going to be published in September. I was counting the days. I thought I'd never needed a book more than I needed this book. That sounds dramatic, but the truth it...it's an understatement. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I've never felt so seen by a book--or any piece of culture or media--in my life. And the way in which this book saw me, represented me, understood me, is so rare that it makes it all the more special and meaningful. Asexuality, while finally being a bit more recognized and a bit less ostracized, is still in desperate need of more of the former and less of the latter. Part of the reason I talk so much about being ace on FB and Instagram and such is because I want it to be out of the shadows and sidelines, to be fully part of the queer community, and for other ace folks to have an easier path to recognizing their identity. It's not exactly true that you can't be what you can't see, but it's a lot harder to be okay with being something that you don't see anywhere else. I love what Angela Chen has done with this book, too, the way she perfectly weaves together the personal, the political, the cultural, the psychological, the intangible. She talks about her own experiences and relates them to the larger whole; she brings in a wide array of voices--aces of color, trans and nonbinary aces, disabled aces, etc--and shows how all of their unique experiences are also part of that larger whole; and she explores the multitude of nuances that exist around asexuality and aromanticism in a way that always feels thoughtful and respectful and incisive. There as a lot that I nodded my head at and quoted on Litsy because I already knew and agreed with it, but there was also a lot of food for thought, things I'd never thought about or encountered myself, but were still so wonderful to learn about and to broaden my own understanding of the overarching ace community. I truly hope that other aces/aros pick up this book and have the same incredible experience as I did. I also hope that some allos (allosexual, someone who is not ace) will be open to reading it too, especially if they know and care about someone who is ace and wants to be a better friend, partner, supporter of that person. We are not jokes, we are not broken, we are not unimportant. And while we may be a small portion of the population, in no way does that diminish our worth or the validity of our lives and needs. I'm just...so fucking glad this book exists. I only realized I was ace in my mid-30s, and while I don't struggle with it and am happy the way I am, this book still gave me such comfort and reassurance that I didn't even know I needed. It's short but substantive, smartly written, readable, accessible, enjoyable, and fucking indispensable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Assigning “stars” seems to run counter to one of the basic tenets of Ms. Chen’s book. Language, or labels, can separate and divide; and/or language can quite capably tear down barriers and promote understanding. Stars are a label...a categorisation. And like most labels, they tend to oversimplify. The book is five-star important. Should be required reading in public schools. Because the book refuses to be myopic. The scope goes much broader than just asexuality. It thoughtfully and sensitively ex Assigning “stars” seems to run counter to one of the basic tenets of Ms. Chen’s book. Language, or labels, can separate and divide; and/or language can quite capably tear down barriers and promote understanding. Stars are a label...a categorisation. And like most labels, they tend to oversimplify. The book is five-star important. Should be required reading in public schools. Because the book refuses to be myopic. The scope goes much broader than just asexuality. It thoughtfully and sensitively examines feminism, racism, ableism, amatonormativity, compulsory sexuality, consent and sexuality and romance and relationships in general. Ms. Chen is a unique voice. She advocates a movement to promote understanding and acceptance; while at the same time wishing that there was no need for a movement or explanation. Language can construct prisons just as it can remove barriers. She seems well aware of “the unspoken sermon.” In exploring asexuality, she never once condemns hypersexuality. Neither directly nor implied. Her book, while bringing light and a sense of belonging and community to aces, does not rely on the dismantling of other groups. She does argue, and I completely agree, for a necessary change to or destruction of societal norms. She writes directly and unequivocally for support of this change/removal, but she neither panders or sermonises. The book is not political. (One very subtle comment about Lindsey Graham, and I think the comment was kinder than it needed to be.) The book contains no hidden agenda. It does what it sets out to do which is explicitly stated in the first chapter and repeated near the end of almost every chapter. It promotes self-exploration, self-understanding, self-love, tolerance, inclusivity. And communication at the beginning of and throughout a relationship to establish and modify, as necessary, the parameters of the relationship that will meet the needs of all involved. The true needs. Not the supposed needs foisted on a relationship by society or even well-intentioned people near the relationship. The writing is simple, and that is an enormous compliment; as the book deals with complex issues of society, psychology, sexuality, love, relationships and power structures. Someone not as well versed in these areas as the author, which I suspect will be the majority of readers, most definitely me, will have no difficulty following, understanding and internalising the information. I am not as familiar with the feminist movement or its history in the U.S. as I should be. After reading the chapter of how asexuality and feminism intersect, I am still not an expert. But i could understand the premise, the arguments and the suggested conclusions. Ms. Chen organised the book very logically which holds great appeal to me. There is crossover between chapters because there are common themes, such as using language to understand ourselves and then freeing ourselves from external expectations, that weave themselves throughout the book. Ms. Chen offers personal anecdotes (and her introductory chapter struck me like a hammer blow...her projection of fears was incredibly close to what I am doing in my current relationship...as if a light came on inside my head and I could finally see my unconscious, flawed motives...self-realisation in a place where I was completely blind..and I am much older, but in no way wiser than the author...will I now be left with insight fallacy?) interspersed with observations from aces, quotes from experts, and accessible pop culture references. This approach provides a greater personal impact to the reader. She appeals to heart and mind. And there are humorous bits...I am not in an emotionally healthy space right now, but still I smiled or laughed at the way certain insights were presented. Well researched. Well constructed. Well written. Ms. Chen has obviously done her homework, but she neither preaches nor condescends. The book informs without needlessly offending. The writing is open-minded even when it comes to an aro, heterosexual male. (A label. And labels have significance. They can empower. They can also hurt.) Why four stars and not five? I can’t quite put my finger on it. I have nothing negative to say and so many positives. I left the book a better person for having read it. I understand myself better. I have rumblings of needed change in my head. I want to share the book. With my Wife. With my sister. With my older son. With my mother (but she would not read it). I think the absence of a star (such a negative way to view that) comes from a very personal reason and not at all the author’s fault. The book comes to me so late... Like Anna, in the penultimate chapter, I was born in the late 60s and grew up Mormon in Utah. Ms. Chen admits in the introductory chapter that there was no real community for aces or even the words to adequately describe asexuality until the internet and David Jay’s AVEN. Like Anna, I am somewhere on the ace spectrum, but the term and the language are new to me. (Anna is also transgender...and while I cannot understand the inner pain of growing up trans in Utah in the 70s/80s, I can sympathise. Anna is made of much stronger stuff than me.) In my teens, I only knew that I was different. There were no words to describe that difference in my formative years, but I was well aware that it was “unnatural.” My parents and other “concerned” people just called me “gay.” There was little understanding behind that word in the 80s...just a pressing need to “fix” me. I never minded the label, although it was never offered in kindness. But it did not feel right to me. I didn’t want to have sex with men either. I simply wasn’t interested in sex which was so counter to the 80s flamboyancy. I did not kiss a woman until I was 22 and even that was not without its share of awkwardness. The closest I had to a role model/lighthouse, including my dearest friends, was: But the word used for him was “celibate” not “asexual” (as noted in the book that was still a term reserved for biology in which the organism does not need a partner to reproduce). And “celibacy” did not seem right either. Celibacy seemed a choice made by monks not wanting (or afraid) to be tempted by the flesh. I had no temptations. Neither did my hero who did not feel nearly as awkward as I did speaking up about it. Of course, I was 14 1/2 and he was 25. Even Morrissey, as articulate and introspective as he is, struggles to define his feelings towards sexuality (6:00). If not fear, then what?”Perhaps...I don’t really care enough.” And he is apologetic. Not only for his difficulty in describing his relationship to sex and sexual attraction, but for having that relationship at all. Self-deprecating. :( The language was not available yet. There was and is no reason to apologise. My adult self knows that, but my teen self never did. https://youtu.be/z2hyP-RLBxQ (3:10) The book just came to me too late in life. Better late than never. But the understanding and self-awareness this book would have brought... Thank you, Ms. Chen for helping me understand myself. For reminding me of the importance of language and the falseness of society’s norms. The Soundtrack Who else could it be? How Soon Is Now? (Live) “I am human.” THE 80s anthem to belong...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    As the subtitle says, this examination of asexuality really makes you think deeply about sex and sexuality, regardless of where you fall on the ace-allo spectrum. The language is accessible and the text is well organized and engaging.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kirin McCrory

    I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book (but the opinions in this review are all my own!). This book is honestly a must-read for anyone, of any sexuality or any gender, who thinks about the confluences of desire, romance, and sex; for anyone who has any interest in how relationships (of all kinds, not just romantic!) function and some separate entities they're comprised of. I wish everyone would read this book regardless of having an interest in this sexual identity or not, because it' I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book (but the opinions in this review are all my own!). This book is honestly a must-read for anyone, of any sexuality or any gender, who thinks about the confluences of desire, romance, and sex; for anyone who has any interest in how relationships (of all kinds, not just romantic!) function and some separate entities they're comprised of. I wish everyone would read this book regardless of having an interest in this sexual identity or not, because it's incredibly useful for thinking about how we and our culture and our narratives shape intimacy in our lives--or how those things limit intimacy. Chen uses her science journalism background to pack the book full of data and sources, but she uses her humanity--her own story and the story of many others in this community, from all walks of life--to make the information come to life. I was also very thankful for the discussion of how this identity coincides with gender, race, ethnicity, and differently-abled people. Book comes out on September 15, and I hope you read it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Bevis

    I've been waiting for this book for a long time, and it was everything I was hoping for and more. Asexuality feels like an afterthought in most queer spaces, and seeing a book place it front and center was so refreshing. Angela writes about her own experience while interviewing dozens of other people who identify as asexual and aromantic, and as a result this book is both informative and personal. Because asexuality is such a broad spectrum, there were a variety of different experiences that rea I've been waiting for this book for a long time, and it was everything I was hoping for and more. Asexuality feels like an afterthought in most queer spaces, and seeing a book place it front and center was so refreshing. Angela writes about her own experience while interviewing dozens of other people who identify as asexual and aromantic, and as a result this book is both informative and personal. Because asexuality is such a broad spectrum, there were a variety of different experiences that readers may or may not identify with, and I was glad to see a wide variety of experiences included. What I also really appreciated was how much of the book dove into the intersection of asexuality with other identities, such as one's race, gender identity, sexual/romantic identities, disability, religion, etc. I want everyone to read this book. Thank you so much for writing it, Angela.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Manon the Malicious

    I was provided an ARC by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book was about asexuality and everything that surrounds it. It was very well researched and very interesting. I related to a lot that was said but also didn't. And that's just so representative of how broad asexuality is. We all live it differently. Anyway, great book, my only note would be to be more concise in sentences and paragraphs. It was A LOT at time. I had trouble staying focused. Still, very intere I was provided an ARC by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book was about asexuality and everything that surrounds it. It was very well researched and very interesting. I related to a lot that was said but also didn't. And that's just so representative of how broad asexuality is. We all live it differently. Anyway, great book, my only note would be to be more concise in sentences and paragraphs. It was A LOT at time. I had trouble staying focused. Still, very interesting, would definitely recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie Decker

    Accessible and eloquently written, ACE sensitively and accurately spotlights an interconnected series of outsider experiences. Few asexual-spectrum narratives so authentically and diversely capture the truths, the quirks, the tragedies, and the triumphs of our lives without alienating non-ace readers or appealing only to one subset of the ace population. ACE creates an inclusive tapestry of validating and eye-opening narratives that will give some readers an experience they may have never had be Accessible and eloquently written, ACE sensitively and accurately spotlights an interconnected series of outsider experiences. Few asexual-spectrum narratives so authentically and diversely capture the truths, the quirks, the tragedies, and the triumphs of our lives without alienating non-ace readers or appealing only to one subset of the ace population. ACE creates an inclusive tapestry of validating and eye-opening narratives that will give some readers an experience they may have never had before: seeing our 'anomalous' perspectives and emotions given the sensitive examination and validation we've always been denied. This book is a welcome addition to a very niche field and puts so many nuanced experiences into relatable, empathetic language.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    This is an important book for library collections, as well as for the general reader interested in sex and gender. Chen discusses her own identity as an asexual, or ace, person, but she also goes deep into the different variations of what asexual means, and how it varies from person to person. The deep dive into the varying needs and desires of the ace community also opens broader questions about the nature of desire itself and how we view sex in American society.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Sometimes, you read a book and it gives you all different kinds of feelings that feels all kind of personal that makes you want to rave about it to everyone and also no one because you want to keep the book all to yourself. This is what reading this book has been like for me. As someone who is ace, this book is a gift that simply keeps giving. It’s not just a book that explores what it is/means to be ace; it also looks at asexuality through multiple perspectives, taking a look at how it intersects Sometimes, you read a book and it gives you all different kinds of feelings that feels all kind of personal that makes you want to rave about it to everyone and also no one because you want to keep the book all to yourself. This is what reading this book has been like for me. As someone who is ace, this book is a gift that simply keeps giving. It’s not just a book that explores what it is/means to be ace; it also looks at asexuality through multiple perspectives, taking a look at how it intersects with social issues like feminism, rape, sexual freedom and disabilities. I feel like I’ve learned and unlearned a whole number of things whilst reading this book, all the while nodding along or just gasping out loud accidentally because “yes, this!” and also just “omg I’m mindblown!” Anyway, I just want to say that I am really happy that glad this book exists and I hope it finds its way into the hands of many other readers, too.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Nation

    This book is amazing - but you will definitely leave with more questions than answers. Chen explores so much in such a short number of pages, from the ways in which asexuality rubs against identity stereotypes (notably around race and disability) to the false sex/rape dichotomy and its limitations on understanding the many layers of sexual consent. The breadth of this book is stunning. Chen leverages her own life as well as pulling in many interviews and lived experiences of academics and activi This book is amazing - but you will definitely leave with more questions than answers. Chen explores so much in such a short number of pages, from the ways in which asexuality rubs against identity stereotypes (notably around race and disability) to the false sex/rape dichotomy and its limitations on understanding the many layers of sexual consent. The breadth of this book is stunning. Chen leverages her own life as well as pulling in many interviews and lived experiences of academics and activists alike. Regardless of how you identify, this book is revelatory.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ang

    This was incredible. There is SO MUCH here. This book isn't just about asexuality; far from it. This book is about sexuality in general, and sex. I didn't leave this book thinking I was asexual, but I did leave this book thinking GREATLY about how I place sex in my own life, and what I've been taught by media and society about sex. (And desire, for that matter.) I think I'll be thinking about this book for a good long while. I cannot recommend it more highly. I think everyone should read it. Ever This was incredible. There is SO MUCH here. This book isn't just about asexuality; far from it. This book is about sexuality in general, and sex. I didn't leave this book thinking I was asexual, but I did leave this book thinking GREATLY about how I place sex in my own life, and what I've been taught by media and society about sex. (And desire, for that matter.) I think I'll be thinking about this book for a good long while. I cannot recommend it more highly. I think everyone should read it. Everyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Kelley

    This book serves as a bit of a history, commentary, personal story, research presentation, and philosophy on Asexuality and experience. This is the new foundation for any ace reader's collection on queer theory and sex education.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Makenzie

    HELL yeah, I'm so excited to start getting back into my gender/sexuality reading and this was a STRONG entry in my personal curriculum. Chen's take is current, knowing, well-rounded, etc, and has me pumped for a shiny new wave of queers writing on lesser known identities.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Ooooh. I really want to read this book. Curse you buzzfeed article for informing me about a book I need to read before it exists publicly.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    CW: Extremely personal Despite my intention to cool it on purchasing books for a bit, I absolutely had to order myself a copy of Angela Chen’s recently published ACE: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. I am not a big one for reading books on sexuality, although I have found the last few I’ve read to be worthwhile, though on the other hand this might be because I only read one every year or so when a book club makes me. But this year’s book I decided to read o CW: Extremely personal Despite my intention to cool it on purchasing books for a bit, I absolutely had to order myself a copy of Angela Chen’s recently published ACE: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. I am not a big one for reading books on sexuality, although I have found the last few I’ve read to be worthwhile, though on the other hand this might be because I only read one every year or so when a book club makes me. But this year’s book I decided to read on my own and then managed to find a book club invitation for--by the New England Aces meetup, a group I am not a member of and have never interacted with, though one of my friends is one of their lead organizers--because this one was personal, but promised a higher level of discourse than, say, Tumblr, which is where I go when I get sick of the allo world’s bullshit and, apparently, wish to change things up by getting sick of Tumblr’s bullshit instead. Pandemic time seems to be boring us all into introspection about identity and gender and sexuality and all sorts of things about how you fit into the world, which would be fine except I did introspection last year after tabling at the Boston Dyke March and wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known I’d just have to do it again so soon. I am usually OK with being the type of person that overthinks everything, but I tend to resent time I spend thinking about sexuality, considering it wasted energy that I could have spent on stuff I actually value. I read the book anyway, and then I went through it a second time with a pencil and highlighter and sticky notes and marked it all up, like I almost never do. I have been having some Thoughts, and also Feelings, and also Thoughts About Feelings, and also Feelings About Thoughts, and it’s Kind Of A Lot given that I’m pretty much stuck at home and not allowed to get within six feet of people, so who knows if a single one of these thoughts or feelings will survive contact with human society once everyone’s let out of their pens again. But whatever. Overall the book is good in that it explains concepts correctly and covers a lot of ground, interviewing a ton of different people and highlighting the diversity of ace experiences. There’s a lot of close looks at the way the author and the people she interviews respond to the expectations put on them, and how they get in people’s heads and complicate figuring out our own authentic feelings. It covers the intersections of aceness with race, gender, disability, religion, etc., and acknowledges the difficulties and uses of trying to taxonomize out different kinds of feelings in a culture that lumps all strong feelings about other people into one thing. There are times when this book was extremely emotionally validating--about my bafflement with “normal” people, about my contempt for the faux-nonconformist rhetoric of “sex-positivity” culture, even about my disdain for certain aspects of the extremely online ace scene. While the Tumblr discourse has shredded the word into near-uselessness by defining the term narrowly as only meaning a lack of one extremely specific feeling, loaded with caveats that it does not and cannot carry any sort of implications about anything else whatsoever, Chen correctly identifies that the real uniting thread through the aspec community is a sense of not getting it. What precisely one does not get and how one feels about not getting it can vary quite widely (and there is always the possibility that you don’t “get” what some supposedly “normal” person is talking about because that person is actually a bigger weirdo than they know) but it’s a relief to frame the community in a way that accepts not knowing what the fuck is going on, because otherwise the pressure to know precisely what people are talking about so you can self-interrogate about whether you are Really And Truly Entirely For-Reals Ace can get exhausting and drag on for quite a while. So that was nice--I can be ace precisely because I have no idea what’s going on! I don’t have to feel like I’m reflecting poorly on the community by being extremely dumb! Being baffled is the community, and so I have found my people! However, there were other times when some of the experiences and framings used in the book ran so counter to my own experiences that they kicked off additional rounds of self-doubt, starting literally before page one. The book is dedicated to “everyone who has wanted to want more,” which applies to me not at all. Other people have wanted me to want more, and I have always taken the position that that’s their problem; that it’s rude and creepy of them to try to make it my problem; and that if that’s the sort of thing that’s going to make them mad, then they deserve to be mad, and the only acceptable response on my part--if I’m going to respond at all, which I shouldn’t, but it’s hard to be completely impervious to other people at all times, especially when one is young--is to ace harder so that those people can die mad. It is very clear that Angela Chen and I are very different types of aces, not just in terms of how we’re ~naturally~ wired to feel about other people (to whatever degree we’ve got that settled) but also in terms of our reactions to the societal pressures around us and our goals and visions of what constitutes the good life. Many of the things that Chen wants and that she was afraid asexuality would be an obstacle towards--to have a deeply felt romantic partnership, to be desired, to be normal, to be doing sex-positive feminism correctly--are things I either see no appeal in or am extremely avoidant of. (It took me about 15 years to reach a point where I don’t automatically experience being desired as a form of being ignored or unseen.) Which brings me to the unhelpful reaction where I feel like her and a lot of the other aces--nearly all of whom also struggle with the specter of not being “gold-star” enough!--have somehow “proved” their asexuality by putting it to the test and trying to be something else, because they didn’t want to be ace but are anyway. I, on the other hand, despite a handful of half-assed forays into heterosexuality, actively want to be ace, and wanted to be ace since before I knew there was a word for it--and boy could I have used a word for it! This, of course, sends me down the self-doubt rabbit hole where of course all the other aces are real and valid and part of the queer community, but I am probably just straight and in denial about it and have hangups due to heteropessimism and being that misandrist type of feminist everyone is very quick to rush to assure you that they aren’t and which doesn’t exist anyway. That the book also discusses the damaging implications of the obsession with the “origins” of asexuality and the need to prove that it is never in any way influenced by anything whatsoever, and how that’s garbage, was helpful in pulling me back out of some of these spirals, but didn’t stop me from falling into them in the first place. I probably do have hangups--I for certain have some measure of hangups from dealing with too many dudes who were Really Really Concerned That I Might Have Hangups, Let Me Fix Them For You, at an impressionable age--but that does not explain why I reacted to expectations around sexuality--even ones as vague as “it is expected I have one”--with horror at ever being even mildly associated with the subject, but I did not do the same with, for example, gender. I have never for one moment in my life felt not female or doubted that I was female or wanted to not be female; I always just wanted people to stop being so obviously, absurdly wrong about whatever responsibility or expectation they put on being female. There are other ace people for whom the expectations of sexuality associated with their assigned gender alienated them from their gender, and there’s got to be some inherent, authentically me reason that I responded to expectations about female sexuality with 0% alienation from femaleness--and indeed, a determination to hold onto it and to not let other people ruin it with their wrongness--but with 100% alienation from sexuality and a determination not to have one… right? Which again brings up the question of “does that count”? Especially given that I have been so unfortunate as to have occasionally been hit with exceptions to my usual opinion that humans are hideous sweaty meat sacks who invented clothing for a reason. Do those infrequent, ill-fitting experiences invalidate my aceness--literally, they must at least compromise it--even though the continually iterated promise that, once I had one of those sorts of feelings, everything would make sense and I would be normal, never happened? In fact, I have loathed those feelings so thoroughly that that they made me understand “normal” people even less, so thoroughly that I have not even felt like they were my feelings, but some horrible perverse alien’s feelings that had invaded my brain, and the idea of having to somehow identify as them is simply unbearable. And let us not even get into how outrageous it is that people who claim to love and care about me somehow thought it was bad that I had been contentedly not having the terrible feelings and that they wanted my brain to be invaded by this awful, time- and energy- sucking outsider whose goals and values and priorities run so contrary to my own. But disidentification, externalization, and alienation, no matter how extreme, aren’t technically the same things as not having the feeling, so… what are they? What category of person does that make me? Down the navel-gazing rabbit hole I go. So the book was an emotional rollercoaster for me, whiplashing constantly back and forth between bursts of recognition and entire pages of “can’t relate, can’t relate, I have no idea what this ace person is talking about either,” with some seasonings of “the inverse of this is relatable and explanatory!” Aromanticism in particular is discussed but given rather short shrift, with a pretty big bulk of the book given over to romo aces and how they navigate romantic relationships. Given that these days I identify more strongly as aromantic than as asexual when I need a respectable-sounding word, I sometimes had to do a bit of expansion of explanations in order to apply them to the concepts where I need stuff explained. Most strikingly to me, Chen occasionally assumes that the reader, in addition to most allos and most of the ace people she interviews in this book--and even some of the aros--has absorbed our cultural scripts around relationships; as someone in her thirties who still cannot quite grasp the concept of a “date,” I pretty much just had to steal reassurances about finding other stuff unintuitive and tell myself it was parallel. I think if you are not ace this book will do a fairly good job of breaking down some of the expectations and assumptions that some people don’t even realize they have and don’t realize that the people they are trying to help experience as pressure. But it is hard for me to really see how someone who is not fundamentally antagonistic to these expectations would react, because I am so deeply antagonistic that people who aren’t might as well be another species, so I shouldn’t assume that things that seem like unmistakably clear and lucid explanations to me will be in any way comprehensible to them. But I do hope that at least the most basic message will be clear, which is… well, to put it bluntly, that they should shut up and get off our case. That, of course, is the really 101-level message, the baseline ask of individual allo readers to stop making ace people’s lives harder. But the real strength of the book is that it does not leave out a call for collective action. While not a socialist book, it does look at sexual commodification, conspicuous consumption, medical models of desire as a measure of health, and the economic and legal frameworks of family and care work by analyzing how they are products of capitalism that serve, e.g., pharmaceutical companies, at the expense of real people. It makes an interesting read to pair with, for example, Kristen Ghodsee’s Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, which is actually about a fairly wide variety of ways in which the economic conditions of capitalism constrain women’s freedom around sexual behavior and family life, and especially to contrast and synthesize with Sophie Mal’s article Collective Turnoff, which breaks down how much the “stressful, pressurized prurience” of the capitalist “command” to unrepress ourselves is actually a major fucking turnoff for a lot of people. This, somehow, even though I viscerally detested reading every single word of that article except the phrase “stressful pressurized prurience” (which is great and I intend to use it all the time), has oddly brought me to the closest I’ve been to comfortable with the idea that I might not really truly and irrevocably be ace. Maybe I’m something else and it’s just that my turnoffs include capitalism, patriarchy, amatonormativity, compulsory sexuality, the male gaze, sexual commodification, and evolutionary psychology lectures. (I wish to again stress that this is like, 10% of that article, tops, that I found valuable and explanatory. The other 90% feels to me exactly the same as the thing it’s trying to present an alternative to and I had exactly the same reaction to it as I do to being lectured by horny dudes about how akshually science says everyone is bi and poly: Like all my nerve endings are being dipped in glue, and with bone-deep rage and insult at the attempt to tell me how I’m supposed to be.) Anyway, I think ACE hits a reasonable balance in acknowledging both that asexuality is a natural and normal part of human variation that shouldn’t be pathologized, and that the standard that it’s only valid if it is 110% completely and unassailably natural, immune to any form of social or environmental influence whatsoever, is also false and harmful. And by “reasonable balance” I pretty much just mean that both arguments are in there at all. I think the main thing I can say about this book is that it was therapeutic, and obviously that is very personal and I cannot say that it would be so for anyone who is not trying to process the precise things that I am trying to process and to evict the same ghosts from their past from their head that I am trying to evict. It was not a fun experience, but certainly a cathartic one. Other people may find it informative. OP: https://bloodygranuaile.dreamwidth.or...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    I devoured this book. I didn't even know that I needed to be validated in the ways that this book validated me. This should be mandatory reading for everyone - aces and allos alike.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    If you haven’t already ordered a copy of this book, you need to do so IMMEDIATELY! I got the chance to read an arc of Ace, and I can honestly say it was my favorite book of August (and maybe even of the year). There is something incredible about seeing what you think and feel validated on paper. As someone who identifies as asexual, I’ve often felt like maybe everything is just wrong in my brain or this is a “me” problem. Being on Bookstagram and connecting with other ace people, I’ve started to If you haven’t already ordered a copy of this book, you need to do so IMMEDIATELY! I got the chance to read an arc of Ace, and I can honestly say it was my favorite book of August (and maybe even of the year). There is something incredible about seeing what you think and feel validated on paper. As someone who identifies as asexual, I’ve often felt like maybe everything is just wrong in my brain or this is a “me” problem. Being on Bookstagram and connecting with other ace people, I’ve started to shed that idea. Ace was another huge step in that process for me. Chen takes her own ace experience and combines it with interviews of ace people from all walks of life along with academic research to create an invaluable text for aces and anyone looking to start to understand asexuality. Honestly, I want all my friends to read this book. I want my mom to read this book. I want anyone who loves me to read this book because by reading it I felt incredibly understood, like it contained a road map to me. Things I wouldn’t know how to put into words, Chen can describe and unpack (ex. queer-platonic relationships and how the prioritize of romantic/sexual love over all else can leave ace and aro people confused and lonely). Ace is a must-read and an incredible resource for the LGBTQIA+ community. Get a copy or check out it from your library!

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